Center of Workforce Innovations leads healthcare consortium

Center of Workforce Innovations leads healthcare consortium

Center of Workforce Innovations (CWI) is a workforce development organization that focuses on identifying workforce trends in Northwest Indiana. Through maintaining an understanding of staffing needs and talent availability in various industry groups, CWI works to provide a collaborative approach to meeting the employment needs in the Region.

Director of Planning and Fundraising Shaun Sahlhoff, who has been with CWI for nearly four years, inherited the management of the healthcare consortium. He is tasked with not only relationship building among the healthcare providers in the Region, but also identifying ways to improve processes in the industry to help provide more opportunities in healthcare. The consortium has grown slowly over the last several years. Currently, the group is comprised of 25-35 members, and representatives join monthly from Healthlink - a federally qualified healthcare provider, all post-secondary education systems that offer healthcare programs, and all of the major hospital systems in the Region.

“It’s a nice concentration point of the private sector with the providers, the public sector with CWI, public funding, and education,” Sahlhoff said. “In addition to the relationship building, we’ve seen providers and schools working together better," he said.

Through the efforts of the consortium, opportunities have been identified to provide ways to streamline work between the schools and providers to efficiently schedule clinical work for students. Sahlhoff shared that one of the past projects the group spearheaded was bringing in a software called Castle Branch.

“It allows for clinicals to be scheduled more efficiently and removes some of the hiccups with the paperwork needed to start. With COVID happening, this was a blessing. It really streamlined the process for records to be submitted,” Shalhoff said.

The groups continue to find ways to boost the talent pipeline in Region and provide education on the healthcare careers available. Shalhoff, joined by co-chairs Jennifer Philbin and Tony Ferracane, lead the monthly meetings for the healthcare consortium and identify areas of focus, which currently is talent availability. One of the next projects for the group is to host a healthcare career and job fair for high school students and job seekers in the Region this fall.

“The morning will be a student-focused event and students can talk to people working in healthcare and also talk to the educators about how to get to that job. The afternoon session will be focused on current job seekers,” Shalhoff said. “We want to bring it home that there are good jobs available here and education programs to get these jobs. We want to encourage our residents to want to stay here and work here in the future.” 

Philbin, also dean of nursing at the Ivy Tech Lake County campus, has shared co-chair duties for over three years and said that the consortium has helped her to develop stronger relationships with clinical providers in the area and develop a growth plan for her nursing programs.

“We are growing our nursing program to meet the needs of the nursing shortage in Northwest Indiana. I am able to do this now because I have stronger relationships with the hospitals in the areas and they are creating more clinical rotations for my students,” Philbin said.

Both Shalhoff and Philbin agreed that spreading awareness of the healthcare industry is part of the healthcare consortium’s long-term plan. This includes further partnerships with local schools and making sure that the parents are also aware of the opportunities in health care that their children could pursue.

“We developed a high school track with Hobart High School where instructors are teaching the medical assistant curriculum to juniors and seniors and when they graduate. They just have to do their externship to be a medical assistant,” Philbin said. 

Shalhoff shared that one of the goals for the group that he is currently working on is making sure that the group is robust and ensure that all areas of healthcare have a voice. Last year they focused on bringing more mental health providers into the consortium and he is currently working on welcoming long-term care providers into the group.For more information on the Centers for Workforce Innovations, visit